In Pennsylvania, if you retire while receiving workers’ compensation benefits, the insurance company may file a petition to cut off your workers’ compensation wage loss benefits arguing that you have voluntarily left the work force.
In City of Pittsburgh v. WCAB, 67 A.3d 1994 (Pa. March 25, 2013), the employer presented evidence that the employee had accepted a pension. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that where an employee accepts a pension, the Judge is allowed, but not required, to find that the claimant has retired and voluntarily left the work force. To prove that an employee has retired from the workplace, the employer must supplement its proof of a employee’s receipt of pension with other evidence, such as a statement regarding voluntary withdrawal from the workplace, or the worker’s failure to seek further employment. Once the employer proves that claimant has voluntarily left the workforce, the burden of proof shifts to the injured worker to show that there has been a compensable loss of earnings. This can be accomplished by showing that the employee has searched diligently for alternate employment but has been unsuccessful, or that the employee is completely physically disabled from performing any work as a result of the work injury.
Bottom line: Be very careful before you accept a pension if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Never apply for a pension without talking to a lawyer.